You’re walking down the street. It is about 9 on a Sunday morning. A man crosses the street in front of you. As you pass him, he hits you in the head. You stumble, and he punches you again and again.
You have your Washington state concealed pistol license. You’re armed. You draw your gun and shoot your attacker. He stops hitting you and runs away. You stop shooting. Neighbors heard the shots and called the police. You give a brief statement when the police arrive. Police arrest your wounded attacker a few blocks away. EMS takes your attacker to the hospital for treatment of a non-life threatening wound.
Our defender was walking down the street on a Sunday morning. He was walking in front of a gymnasium, and lots of people take a walk as a warmup before their workout. He was doing what lots of other people had safely done before. Unfortunately, there are no completely safe places and safe times.
Our defender did a lot of things to protect himself. He went through the time, trouble, and expense to get his permit so he could be legally armed in public. He found and purchased a firearm he could carry. He went through the inconvenience of dressing around his gun and having it with him when he went for a walk at a relatively safe time and place. Our defender did not give up even though he was hit. He defended himself when he had to, and he stopped shooting when he could. He stayed at the scene and gave a report to the police.
There is a lot we will never know about this story. This could have been a spontaneous attack where the robber wanted an iPhone and a wallet and saw his chance to grab them. This attack could have been planned in advance where the robber saw people who were unaware during their exercise routine. Lots of people check their phone as they leave a business. Distracting ourselves that way makes it easier for an attacker to get close to us. Once he is within arms reach, the attacker can hits hit his victim by surprise and then take what he wants. If the victim was a small female or an older person, then they could have been concussed at the first punch as well as when their head hit the ground.
The robber was dangerous even though he did not use a firearm.
Awareness of our surroundings-
The obvious thing to do for our own defense is to take out our earphones. They cut off our sense of sound so we can’t hear someone approach us. They are also a distraction so we have a harder time monitoring our surroundings. Having our head up and our eyes open lets us cross the street so we don’t let crazy people or criminals get next to us.
Establish our personal zone-
The classic way for an attacker to approach a victim is to ask them a question. “Hey, do you know what time it is.” We let people near us as we try to help them. If you’re not comfortable with the situation then your answer is “DON’T COME ANY CLOSER.” The next answer is “I’m talking to YOU! STAY BACK!” We have a survival instinct and we can practice listening to it. We are not used to shouting at strangers and moving away. Yes, we feel uncomfortable as we’re impolite. This confrontation a routing part of a self defense class because most of us need practice at establishing our personal space.
We can practice routine situational awareness. One way is to ask ourself “Why are they here?” as we pass strangers on the street or in a store.
Access to our firearm-
We want to protect our head during an attack. We also duck and turn away by instinct to protect our face. We have to stop protecting ourselves with at least one arm as we grab our firearm. If you are carrying your gun in your purse or in a bag, then you may have to lower both hands in order to get a firing grip on your gun. Practice that so you know how many hands and how much time you need to get your gun.
Presentation during a close-quarters attack-
New students learn to fire a handgun using a two-handed grip with their firearm held at arms length. You don’t have room to do that if you’re being punched because you would be handing your gun to your attacker. You want to shoot with your firearm next to your body in what is called a retention position. We might not be able to see all of our attacker if we’re bent over. We will not be able to line up the sights on our gun. We depend on our kinematic senses to point the gun at our attacker. We do this the same way we can point our finger at an object near us even if our eyes are closed.
Avoidance and team tactics-
We win all the attacks we avoid. That means we beat an attacker simply by walking across the street before they get next to us. That works if you are an MMA fighter or an ordinary person and out of shape. Simply having our head up and paying attention means we don’t look like the last victim this attacker tried to rob.
If you walk with a friend, then talk about what you will do if you’re attacked. Taking a step away from your partner means the attacker has to turn away from one of you to attack the other. Simple team tactics will put most attackers at a huge advantage, particularly if you are both armed.
People at heightened risk-
Criminals seek out easy prey. Women are attacked more often than men. The handicapped are attacked several times more frequently than the able-bodied. If you are out to exercise after recovering from an illness, then that might be a particularly good time to walk with a friend.. and to carry concealed.
Rob Morse highlights the latest self-defense and other shootings of the week. See what went wrong, what went right, and what we can learn from real-life self-defense with a gun. Even the most justified self-defense shooting can go wrong, especially after the shot. Get the education, the training, and the liability coverage you and your family deserve, join USCCA.
About Rob Morse
Rob writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily, and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob was an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.